PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida Department of Education

  • The Florida Board of Education, next week, will consider taking action against 11 Public School Districts with mask mandates that are out of compliance with state rules and an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.Sarasota School Board members, next week, will vote on whether to repeal the district’s mask policy.A federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for hospitals is coming in October. Today marks the deadline for NCH employees to be fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health are not imposing a staff vaccine mandate in advance of the federal mandate.Nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Lee Health hospitals have been in the past two months amid the summer pandemic surge driven by the delta variant.A new report projects Florida will have a shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2035.With weekly unemployment claims rolling in at pre-pandemic numbers, state leaders say they remain optimistic about seeing results from a summer push to get people back into the labor force.Republican state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would exempt religious institutions from emergency orders.Florida families with children are now set to receive more than $1 billion in federal pandemic relief funds through a program created by Congress last year to assist children who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals when instruction shifted from in-person to virtual.
  • A Leon County judge, Wednesday, vacated an automatic stay on Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. This provides a temporary reprieve allowing school districts with mask mandates to keep them in place. Judge John Cooper said the state didn’t prove how it would be harmed if the ruling was allowed to go into effect.Lee County School District officials sent a letter to the Department of Education responding to threats of withholding state funds and imposing other sanctions over the district’s mandatory mask rule. In the response, officials say the Lee School District’s mask rule is in compliance with state law.Lee Health has surpassed 1,000 deaths of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Overall COVID patient populations in Southwest Florida hospitals are in decline even as in-hospital deaths have been on the rise in recent days.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis has appealed a Leon County Circuit Court Judge’s ruling striking down his executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates.Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran sent a letter, last week, threatening to withhold state funding from the Lee County School district due to its mask-wearing policy for students, which only allows students to opt-out with a doctor’s note.The Florida Department of Health, last month, changed the way it reports the number of deaths from COVID-19 to a method that misleads people into believe there's been a decline in deaths.The Orlando Utilities Commission is reminding customers to conserve water as an unprecedented surge in the coronavirus causes a shortage of liquid oxygen. Two weeks after making the request, the utility says customers are saving on water, but not enough.With Florida legislative committee meetings starting later this month in advance of the 2022 annual law-making session, the state Senate is not planning to limit public access as Florida continues battling the COVID-19 pandemic.The Carnival Cruise Line plans to require proof of vaccination for passengers when cruises resume from some Florida ports in November.Federal COVID rental assistance relief funds in Sarasota and Manatee County have been slow to reach residents in need.
  • A Leon County judge ruled Friday in favor of parents who filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing mask mandates on students. DeSantis has defended his order by citing a new state law called the Parents’ Bill of Rights, but in his ruling, the judge said the law doesn’t prevent school districts from imposing mask rules. The state will likely appeal the ruling, but for now, school districts can keep their mask policies.Although virus-related hospitalizations Florida have recently begun to level off, the number of daily reported deaths continues to climb. Federal data reports about 279 COVID deaths a day in Florida over the past week. A month ago, the average death rate stood at 52 fatalities a day. AdventHealth, Volusia County and Sarasota Memorial Hospital all reported leasing refrigerated trucks to expand morgue capacity amid the spike in deaths and backup at funeral homes.As Florida deals with another surge of COVID patients, supplies of oxygen for healthcare providers are running low and the shortage is affecting other industries outside of healthcare like aerospace.
  • Florida is worst in the nation when it comes to hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients, including children. Florida also has the highest weekly total number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country.Data reported by Johns Hopkins University finds that Florida now accounts for 22% of new weekly total cases nationwide and 25% of weekly reported deaths from the virus.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, Florida is currently the only state in the nation with a quarter or more of all inpatient hospital beds being used to treat coronavirus patients.Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital both report new record-high numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.The strain of the COVID-19 patient surge is has hit medical resources to the point that ambulance services and fire departments in some parts of Florida are no longer able to respond to emergency calls as usual. Ambulances in Pinellas County are waiting up to an hour with patients still inside until a hospital bed opens up for them-That's time the ambulances are unavailable to respond to other calls.On Friday, a Leon County Circuit Court judge will hold a hearing in a lawsuit filed by parents challenging Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from imposing mask mandates. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is demanding a change in policy from Broward County School Officials after the school board voted earlier this week to impose a mandatory mask mandate for students.The Sarasota County School District is temporarily barring visitors from school campuses and suspending any student field trips amid the current surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. 143 students and staff members were absent the first day of school, Tuesday, due to COVID-19 infections.A University of Florida study finds that people who end up in a hospital for COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized in the future for additional health problems related to a COVID-19 complication.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis says school districts that choose mask mandates could see their school board and superintendent’s salaries cut. a group of parents have filed suit over DeSantis’ executive order in Leon County Court, and a second mask lawsuit has been filed in South Florida. Democratic Senators have pledged to create a GoFundMe campaign to help repay any school leaders who lose their salaries by trying to put a student mask requirement in place.The ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has resulted in an exponential increase in pediatric patients requiring treatment and hospitalization in Lee Health’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. The start of a new school year, with mask wearing optional, is alarming local healthcare professionals, who shared their experiences treating children sick with COVID during a news conference, Tuesday.Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health both reported record-high number of COVID -19 patients admitted to their hospitals with 201 and 455 patients, respectively.Florida health officials and the administration of Governor Ron DeSantis said late Monday that the number of new COVID-19 infections reported publicly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was wrong. Finger pointing over the data comes as the numbers of hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19 increases.The Celebrity Cruise Line plans to sail and comply with a state order barring businesses from requiring proof of vaccination status by placing several restrictions on passengers who refuse to provide proof of vaccination when asked.
  • Over the weekend, the nationwide COVID-19 surge surpassed 100,000 new confirmed daily infections. The AP reports, that milestone was last exceeded during the surge this past winter. The current resurgence is being driven by the more transmissible Delta variant and lower vaccination rates in Florida and other Southern states. Florida accounts for one in five new COVID-19 infections nationwide, which is more than any other state. The Tallahassee Democrat reports, the state broke another record for most reported new cases in a single day with 23,903 cases reported Friday, according to the CDC.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported, Saturday, that there were 13,750 COVID-19 patients in Florida hospitals, marking another record high.Florida’s State Board of Education approved two emergency rules related to the ongoing pandemic, further riling up worried parents who are preparing to send their kids back to school classrooms this month. The first rule involves how students will be counted for attendance: kids who must quarantine due to coronavirus exposure or infection will be counted present if they have to learn at home. The second rule now in effect would allow students who are bullied over COVID to transfer to other schools using the state’s HOPE scholarship voucherStudents in K-12 schools throughout Southwest Florida return to the classroom Tuesday, Aug. 10, including in the Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota County school districts. In Lee County, officials announced over the weekend that there will be a mask mandate. Parents who want to opt their kids out of mask wearing can do so by filling out a form that the district said it will make available by Monday evening.Private Catholic school students within the Diocese of Venice in Southwest Florida return to the classroom Monday, Aug. 9, and many parents are expressing anger over a last-minute decision to impose a mandatory mask policyA federal judge, Sunday night, granted the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line's request to temporarily block a Florida law that bars businesses and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination status.The AP reports, the judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by Norwegian, as the company seeks to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status of passengers before they board a ship.Florida hospital leaders and Gov. Ron DeSantis are urging more people to take advantage of monoclonal antibodies, a COVID-19 treatment that is proving to be very effective at preventing serious illness.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently expanded its emergency use authorization for the therapy.
  • Florida added 20,133 cases Thursday, an increase over the last three days, continuing an upward surge from COVID-19.Statewide, another 400 patients were hospitalized in the last day, continuing a record-breaking surge of patients. Currently, more than 12,888 people are hospitalized statewide – and nearly 2,600 are in the intensive care unit.The State Board of Education is set to review a proposed policy, Aug. 6, that would allow for Hope Scholarship vouchers to be made available to students in public school districts with mask mandates, whose parents don't want their kids wearing masks in the classroom.Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is now asking the federal government for additional school funding that could offset lost state dollars to districts that defy Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring them from mandating masks.Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials say elective surgeries are being postponed in order to redirect staff and other resources amid the ongoing surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings heads to court Aug. 6. The Miami-based company is requesting that a federal judge overturn Florida’s ban on vaccine passports.President Joe Biden said he’s buying struggling renters time with a new eviction moratorium that might not pass Constitutional muster. The new, more focused order only extends to areas of high COVID transmission. That includes all of Florida.
  • Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and with the start of a new school year just weeks away, Governor Ron DeSantis, Friday, announced plans to sign an executive order barring schools in Florida from imposing mask mandates.
  • State health officials reported 6,658 new COVID-19 cases, Monday, for a total of 999,319 cases.The Florida Department of Health also reported 97 new coronavirus-related deaths, Nov. 30, increasing the statewide death toll to 18,834 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.The latest single-day positivity rate reported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management increased to 10.06% on Saturday.